Pray for hope to dream once again
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
The phrase “It is what it is” is so commonly used. It might even be considered cliché. Yet, the depth of its meaning seems to have been lost. It conveys, in just a few short words, a situation which cannot be changed, being without hope of improvement. It’s as if someone is holding up their hands and saying, “stop hoping, this can’t get better.” It’s as if hope – the ability to dream of a better condition – is set aside, never to be resurrected. What a sad place to be, where hope is unavailable.
After Nehemiah heard about the condition of Jerusalem, he sat down and wept for days (Nehemiah 1-2). This grieving spilled over into his role as cup-bearer to the king. When the king questioned his sad face, Nehemiah reveals the pain in his heart over Jerusalem and his dream of reconstructing the city of Jerusalem. By dreaming of what Jerusalem could be, Nehemiah becomes God’s instrument in bringing Israel back to God. And in reading the rest of Nehemiah’s story, we find that just as the city returns to some form of its former glory, the people of Israel do as well.
Both in Nehemiah’s story and the passage today, restoration produces hope and the ability to dream. Israel’s past restoration produced enough hope to where dreaming was rekindled and freedom to imagine what could be. Moving from despair and pain to a place where there’s hope enough to begin dreaming feels like the cold night passing because of a wonderful sunrise and the warmth of the sun washing away the memory of the frigid evening. We all desire the warm feeling of hope and freedom to dream, but we will never get there unless we begin to imagine what things could be. Perhaps this is a good time for us all to sit still for a moment and consider where we have stopped dreaming, and pray for hope to dream once again.
By Rich Obrecht